For anyone familiar with Troy Davis' story, last week was a tough one. After imprisoning him for two decades -- longer than some of our readers have been alive -- the state of Georgia executed a man for a crime he didn't commit, as the world watched and as activists fought for his life. Many of us will remember where we were Wednesday night for a very long time.
Here at Colorlines, we sought to give the best coverage possible to Troy's plight and to the system that put him there. Jen Marlowe, a friend of Troy's family, reported for us from the prison vigil. Akiba Solomon interviewed historian William Jelani Cobb, and called out the racialized pro-life movement on their silence on this black man's life. Stokely Baksh and Hatty Lee laid out the issue in photos and infographics, and Jorge Rivas showed us the outcry for justice on social media. Our editors Kai Wright and Jamilah King mourned Troy's passing, and our publisher Rinku Sen laid out the next steps for anyone looking to remove the death penalty from our nation's justice system. And the story's not over yet; all our coverage, and the pieces we're working on now, will be found here.
And the Colorlines community was present at every step to spread the word and to support. Here's a few of your comments from last week, from here and Facebook.
Can you imagine thinking you were going to die three times and being given three reprieves? Troy Davis was not given a stay tonight; he was given a fucked-up exit from a fucked-up world. What does it say about us that we mentally torture people in prisons and yet think the prisoners should come out rehabilitated and fit for society?
Jillian A. Wells:
I take solace in the fact that at the end Troy remained resolute in his innocence but still prayed for Mark McPhail's family. I follow his example and so should we all.
This is the first time I think we should listen to Kim Kardashian. Sad that she and other famous people are more vocal about this than the Obama administration.
The European Union is pretty pissed at the US government right now. I wonder if the EU's planning to bring human rights charges in front of international bodies for Troy's murder. I sure hope so.
I don't understand the new outrage, The southern states have been murdering innocent black men and women for 400 years, with and without the legal system. The people of the south vote for the same people over and over who oversee this the worst form of human cruelty. This is not NEW! THIS IS AMERICA! THIS IS WHO WE ARE! THIS IS WHO WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN. We are rotten at the core; we commit the same atrocities around the globe. If you want something different, remove your current legislators and replace them with someone who gives a damn about people. We have the death penalty for our larger-than-normal segment of heinous criminals, criminals that we arm with weapons and then feed 24/7 Law and Order so that they become desensitized to the murders they will eventually commit. [...]
We killed the native Americans, Japanese, Iraqis, South Americans Blacks and the poor; we are all Troy Davis but we are also all murderers. We have always been this, it was just never in your face like it is today. Vote, do something constructive and vote, cut these cancers out of our society.
katinphilly adds on to Rinku's next steps:
Thank you for this article. I work with exonerated death row prisoners who have been working in different ways on Troy Davis's case for the past five years, and they are especially devastated and heartbroken by this impending abomination. You can see a video of two of them on the dais with Benjamin Jealous at Ebenezer Baptist Church last Friday.
And for a 1000 other reasons why we shouldn't have the death penalty, read the stories of the extraordinary and courageous men I work with who have dedicated their lives to ending the death penalty, so there are no more Troy Davises in our country, and we finally rid our country of this national shame. witnesstoinnocence.org
and Online Life:
Thank you, Rinku.
If anyone in Texas would like to get involved or donate in Texas, they can visit here; there are a list of other Texas organizations doing amazing work in the left sidebar of that page.
Want to start writing to an inmate on death row? I'm not sure if this list is current, but I'll put it here anyway. They give their names, a photo, an address, and a little about themselves. It says you must be 18 yrs. or older to write.
And for inspiration check out this interview with long time anti-death penalty abolitionist, Ms. Gloria Rubac.
Thank you Kai and Jamilah for a thoughtful, straightforward perspective on this tragic event. In the past week, two positive things have happened in US news, the "official" end to the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, and the freedom of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. However, the execution and murder today of Troy Davis highlights an egregious error and complete failure on the part of the US justice system to actually do justice. It also casts a huge spotlight on how fallible and racist our country still is. We, as the US, have a a lot to reflect upon, and I can only hope that the multitude of communities who got behind the movement to Free Troy Davis, will continue their work in solidarity to make change. Colorlines... keep up the excellent reporting, editorials, and articles. You are a much needed and solid resource to people everywhere.
Melissa Halbach-Merz asks Jen Marlowe about Troy's family:
Is there anyway to contact De'Jaun Correia [Troy Davis' nephew]? Is there a college fund set up for him? If not, can we do this through UNCF or another non-profit? This would be a wonderful way to honour Troy Davis while giving De'Jaun a fantastic opportunity. We should seize this opportunity while this tragedy is still receiving a lot of media attention!
Jen Marlowe responds with details:
Hi Melissa, yes, contributions in memory of Troy can be made for De'Jaun and his cousin Kiersten's college funds. Contact me here for more info.
And a final thought from Marianne Milton:
We will never forget Troy Davis. And with hard work in his memory, we will end the racist injustice that is the death penalty so that no more of our children will be killed in a barbaric state-sponsored homicide.